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Baltimore Art and Spirits

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BmoreArt’s Picks: February 22-28

The Baltimore Spirits Company Cocktail Gallery in Woodberry, part of the same compound as the Union Collective anchored by Union Craft Brewing, offers a chance for one of my favorite pairings: cocktails and art. Their newish exhibition space, which opened in the summer of 2021 with The Baltimore Spirits Co., offers another opportunity for Baltimore-based artists to display their work and for patrons to be introduced to new pieces to add to their collection while sipping inspiring and artful concoctions.

Cofounder Max Lents answered a few questions for me about the new hybrid bar and artspace, which I’m looking forward to visiting as the days become longer and as the heaviness of winter seems to finally be lifting. And, these beautiful photos of artful drinks from the BSC Cocktail Gallery by Justin Tsucalas function as art in themselves.

 

Golden Bramble, BSC Cocktail Gallery
Negroni, BSC Cocktail Gallery

Where are you from? Where are your roots? Where are your people from?

I’m a Tex-pat officially, having spent my first 21 years there, but where my roots grow and where my people are from is more complicated. I will, of course, always have some Texan in me, but in about 5 years, I will have spent half my life in Baltimore; if I am spreading any of my own roots, Baltimore is where they grow.

Why Baltimore?

People ask me ‘why Baltimore’ all the time (both locally and traveling) when I talk about forming the company. My answer is always the same: it’s not an accident that we’re in Baltimore. Baltimore is the city we want to be in. If it weren’t, we’d be somewhere else. At the end of the day, Baltimore inspired the whole project, and without Baltimore, there’d be no BSC.

When did you start Baltimore Spirits Co. and What exactly is it?

We started working on the business plan for Baltimore Spirits Company in 2013, and opened for business right at the end of 2015. Originally named ‘Baltimore Whiskey Company’, our plan was simple: take over the world with Rye Whiskey made in Baltimore, the historic cradle of American whiskey distilling.

Our portfolio has widened (and our name change reflects that), but our goals are no less ambitious. We started on half of a shoestring budget, and I’m happy to report that we now operate with a full shoestring budget. Soon, the world.

Why did you decide to open a gallery and does the space have a name?

We’ve always considered ourselves creatives first and foremost in our spirits making endeavors. We’re certainly not great business people! The new Cocktail Gallery at the Union Collective lets us have a literal link to the greater artistic community in Baltimore. Not only is it a visual arts gallery, but we can host music, talks, social meet ups etc. It fits in wonderfully to how we understand our business and our contribution to the fabric of the city. Even our lighting is a literal art installation by local light artist Greg St. Pierre.

 

Negroni, BSC Cocktail Gallery
Creating the perfect Paloma Loma at the BSC Cocktail Gallery

What do you currently have on view?

Besides our permanent light installation, we have works by Alissa Attman and Mark S. Sanders on the gallery wall. Our art selection is curated by Katsea Gallery, and rotates seasonally. We also have permanent wallpaper created by local artist Allison Crowley, and have some permanent pieces for behind the bar currently in design by Sarah Pilkinton.

How do you decide what works are on view/do you accept submissions?

All artists should contact Katsea gallery for inquiries about exhibiting. We do have some special shows scheduled through the distillery coming as well.

Who are some of your favorite artists or creatives in Baltimore?

I’ll start with giving it up to the Godfather of trash and good bad taste, John Waters. Amy Sherald is already a legend. TT the Artist not only absolutely inspires with her own work but does such a great job bringing attention to Baltimore creatives; bonus points.

I have a great affection for Landis Expandis’ whole creative energy, from his music projects, to his visual art, to his fashion sense. I suppose I could go on but honestly I’m always admiring a new artist around town. There’s so much great creative energy in the city.

What is your favorite cocktail either on the menu, or one that you make at home?

I’m a creature of habit and I can’t stop drinking our Fernet Frappe in the Cocktail Gallery. It’s a mix of Epoch Rye based Crème de Menthe, Fernet, and Apricot Creme. It sounds heavy but it’s light. It sounds complicated but it’s so accessible. I love it.

How can BmoreArt’s audience support you and Baltimore Spirits Co.?

Come by and see us! Have a cocktail and enjoy the space. Watch the lights change, consider the artworks, listen to our vinyl collection. If you want to get a more in depth idea of our operation, join us on one of our Blend-Your-Own-Whiskey Tours, which we host every weekend. There are a lot of ways to get to know us. Keep a bottle in your house!

 

Golden Bramble at BSC Cocktail Gallery
The Paloma Loma at the BSC Cocktail Gallery
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